Ask Riley: Should I Quit My Job?

Riley Brands

Editor’s note: This is an advice column written by in-house know-it-all Riley Brands. All answers are based on personal experience. Brands is not a licensed professional. Questions for Brands can be sent to [email protected].

Dear Riley,
I did it. I defied the odds and nabbed a job right out of school with a degree that is marked by its legacy for turning out people who eventually go crazy. (Suffice to say it is of a liberal arts-y, non-useful and not business or science or technologically persuasion.)

And it seemed like a great gig, too: I would ostensibly be doing exactly the kind of work I've always wanted to be (paid) to do. But three months in, I am drowning — I hate this job and everything it involves.

I'm a monkey, doing the work of a well-paid intern, slowly schlepping through the menial, maddening, and mind-melting. I so desperately want to quit. I've asked around — to my parents, mentors, and close friends — about my situation, and I am now fraught with a whole other anxious problem: Am I just being a whiny, entitled twit?

I should be so lucky to even have a job (especially considering my field and my degree), right? And I can't expect to be doing all the career-making, fabulous things right out the gate, right? I have to put my time in and earn my stripes, so to speak, right?

I am aware of these facets and also deeply aware that I spend most of every day bitterly chugging away and then spend all of my free time dreading ever having to go back. I no longer sleep to dream — only nightmares where I have to go back to work. Despite everything I've tried to do to make my internal relationship to the Job from Hell a better one, it ends up ruining my mood, my mind, and my life.

What kind of working life hell do I have to go through before I'm allowed to want better? Am I just typifying every Millenial cliche by wanting at least some small sliver of fulfillment in the work that I do?

Seeking enlightenment


Dear Enlightenment,
Congratulations on snagging a job right out of college! That’s no small feat. Now, what to do about your situation there?

Assuming you like your new work environment (meaning where you work and who you work with), your problem seems to me to all boil down to your prospects for advancement. Are there any paths you can take from here, or are you stuck in a “dead-end” job? Talk to your boss and see if you can work out a timeline for advancement. Having a goal to strive toward can be motivation enough to get you through the monotony of the intervening months.

If, however, there’s no way to move up the ladder, it still might not hurt to stick it out a few more months and build up some experience. To make the day-to-day drudgery at least somewhat bearable, ask your boss about taking on slightly different responsibilities. A change of pace should be enough to power you through the remaining months. If your boss demurs, then you’ll have to carefully consider your options. Jumping ship at this point would be a drastic move, but it may be one you need to make.

Finally, as a postscript of sorts, I’d like to address the point you make about fulfilling every Generation Y stereotype by quitting. Don’t let this weigh too heavily on your decision; the older generation has been complaining about its progeny from time immemorial, as can be seen in the following remark by Plato: “What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets, inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?” Some things never change.